At a meeting of the Gulfport Business Club on August 2nd, Mayor George Schloegel announced that the USS Mississippi will be commissioned in Gulfport.
Mississippi submarine veterans have been lobbying the Navy, and the chosen site at the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor has been welcomed by them.
C.L. “Harv” Harvey, who served on Navy submarines in the Cold War, told the Sun Herald: “Every sub vet in the area is going to be thrilled. It’s a wonderful thing to have it named after the state and getting the commissioning here will be a tremendous boon.” Harvey said that local people had met with the likely commander of the sub, Navy Cmdr. John McGrath, and other officials, in their quest to get the sub commissioned in Gulfport.
The new Virginia-class submarine, measuring 377 feet long with a 34 foot diameter, began production in February 2007. The Virginia class is considered to be the ‘next generation’ of attack sub. Rather than a traditional periscope, it has two photonic masts mounted on telescopic arms. These house black and white, color and infrared digital cameras. The removal of the traditional barrel periscope means that the control room can be moved, allowing more room and an improved layout.
It can also launch Tomahawk cruise missiles and torpedoes, and has a control system that enables better shallow-water handling. The torpedo room is capable of housing a large number of special operation forces, along with their equipment. There are also large lock in/lock out chambers for divers. At speeds of 30 miles per hour and a depth of 800 feet, the Virginia-class submarine can carry approximately 135 personnel. Among the operations carried out by the Virginia-class subs are mine warfare, reconnaissance and intelligence.
It is anticipated that the USS Mississippi will remain at the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor for several days after the commission, so that locals can view it.